Getting It Right
He saw her standing across the pavilion among the people. Her blonde hair was piled on top of her head. The white material of her dress flared out behind her as a gust of wind caught it. He felt his breath catch in the back of his throat. And then she looked at him.
Blue eyes stared straight through him. Bored deep inside and examined his soul.
Then she yawned.
With a laugh he made his way through the people, ignoring the calls of his friends, until he was within only a few feet of her. Just being so close to her was enough to make him feel drunk. Her perfume coiled around him, making him feel that much more intoxicated. The sound of her voice might kill him.
"I have it on good authority that Marcus will be winning this race," he said as he edged closer to her.
Turning, she raised a brow at him. "He is not favored by Caesar. No one who is not favored by our lord ever wins."
Brown eyes sparkled as he smiled at her. "Care to wager on that beautiful one?"
She looked him over shrewdly, blue eyes narrowing as she took him in. "And what would you have to wager?"
With an exaggerated bow, he smiled at her again. "If Marcus wins, then you will allow me to escort you home. And tell me your name. If he does not, you have my heart at your feet in a thousand pieces. I will go and you can keep what's left of my heart, for I will surely never need it again without you."
As hard as she tried, she couldn't keep the corners of her mouth from forming a smile. "I see," she replied. "This is a very serious wager indeed." Struggling to keep a straight face, she appeared to think it over. "All right then." Sticking out a slender hand she smiled up at him. "Shake on it?"
"Moonlight becomes you," he whispered as she paused in front of a small building.
"You are too kind," she smiled. "This is where our wager ends."
"Oh no," he told her gently, "You have not completely fulfilled your end of the wager."
"I still don't know your name."
"Ah." She blushed slightly and peered up at him from under lashes. "My name is Kerre sir."
"The Mother to the Gods some might say. Is this where Venus gets her beauty? Not from her mother, but from her grandmother?"
She laughed softly and blushed deeper. "Again I say you are too kind sir. I fear it is time for me to take to bed."
Gently he reached for her, pulling her close until their lips met. Ever so softly he kissed her, his mind reeling from the touch. Surely she must be a piece of heaven sent down by the Gods. They parted and she turned for the door.
"Good Bye kind sir," she told him.
"Not good bye," he replied, "Merely good night."
I met you before the fall of Rome
And I bet you to let me take you home
You were wrong, I was right
You said goodbye, I said good night
It's all been done
It's all been done
It's all been done before
It was smoke filled and noisy, but he really didn't care. All he cared about at that moment was food, a bath and a real bed. Even the barmaids held no interest for him. Moving to a corner table, he eased himself into a rough wooden chair.
"Whiskey," he grunted at the girl as she approached. "And food whatever you've got."
The girl nodded and headed back for the bar.
He leaned back, letting his head rest against the wood behind him. The feeling of his horse still being under him was strong enough he cast a glance down, just to be sure. His eyes began to close, his mind and body weary from the long ride. It was the utter and complete silence that forced them open again.
The low whistle that cut through the silence bothered him for no apparent reason. But it did make him look at what everyone else was looking at. What he saw almost made him forget the ride, the horse, and nearly being killed.
The young woman stood, just in the doorway. She peered around as if looking for someone, but he got the feeling she didn't know exactly whom it was she sought. Her red hair was pulled back, but tendrils broke free and curled against her neck. Green eyes held knowledge and fire in their depths. The dark green of her dress was dusty and dirty, but it in no way took away from her beauty or grace. He thought he might be happy if she would just stand there all night and he could stare at her. Spotting him in the corner, she immediately went to him.
"William Cody?" she asked quietly, glancing around warily at the other men gathered. The appreciative and lusty stares made her nervous.
"That would be me."
She flashed a brilliant smile that was nearly blinding. "I knew it!" she gasped. "I have a job for you."
The barmaid arrived, dropping a glass of liquor and a bowl of what appeared to be some kind of stew, in front of him. She cast a glare at the other woman then stalked back to the bar. So much for having a story to tell the other girls now.
Digging into the food, Cody took a few bites before looking back up at her. Kicking a chair out from under the table, he nodded to it. "What is it you want me to do young lady?"
"There is talk of war. A war between the states." He nodded, turning most of his attention back to his food. She watched him a moment, then continued. "My brother has enlisted to help. He wishes to remain here. But I want to go home" Her words trailed off, holding a sadness that was nearly tangible.
"Home?" he prodded.
"New England. Boston to be exact. I need an escort."
Cody stopped eating and leaned back in the chair to look at her. She was no older than he was. Maybe a little younger. But certainly old enough to have been married off by now. He wondered if she was running from her husband. "I see," he offered the returned to his food.
"I have money."
That worked. He looked at her more carefully now. "And how'd you get this money?" he drawled. Money was good. Clean money was even better.
"My father is a wealthy man. To have his daughter home, safe and sound, would mean a great deal to him."
"I see. And whom am I escorting to Boston?"
With a curt nod, he took a drink from his glass. "Be packed in the morning Maggie. We leave at dawn."
"But Daddy, I love him!" she cried. Desperation and anger were in her voice.
"Absolutely not!" Mr. Kade bellowed. "William Cody. Ha! Who is he? He has nothing to offer you. My daughter will be taken care of. She will not have to want for anything! No Pony Express rider can provide the kind of things she needs in life. I won't accept it. You will marry your betrothed as we have planned since you were ten. Michael is a good man. He will gladly over look this indiscretion."
Maggie sobbed and ran out of the room. As fast as her feet would carry her, she rushed to the stables. Flinging open the wooden door, she hurled herself into his arms.
"He won't allow it," she wailed against his chest. "I am to marry Michael. He's probably moving up the wedding date as we speak."
Gently he stroked her hair, his heart feeling as if it might burst in his chest. He should have known this would happen. He was nothing. He had nothing to give her. Nothing to offer. He didn't even have a home to call his own.
"I heard," he whispered into her hair. "But it doesn't change the fact that I love you."
With tear filled eyes she looked up at him. Reaching out, she stroked his cheek and forced a smile. "Ever since I laid eyes on you, I knew I had met you some place else before this time. Maybe in another life. I felt you in the bar that night. I knew I loved you then." Her eyes went to the floor and she stepped back. "Maybe, in the past, we've gotten to be together. Maybe we got to do all the things you and I will never do." Maggie let the tears fall. "The past was much more fun than this. Much better. It had to be."
Cody smiled faintly. Reaching out, he kissed her lightly. Holding her close for just a few seconds, he released her and turned to go. The temptation to ask her to come with him was strong, but she was not the kind to betray anyone. Leaving would be the biggest betrayal she could ever do to her father. Even though her destiny had been planned without her, he couldn't ask it of her.
"I'll see you next time," he whispered.
I knew you before the west was won
And I heard you say the past
Was much more fun
You go your way, I'll go mine
But I'll see you next time
Her heels clicked against the stone, and she snuggled a little deeper into her fur coat. "I'm telling you," she said archly, "Something needs to be done about these gangster types. They're going to be the death of us all."
"Probably," he agreed. Shoving his hands deep into his pockets, he fingered the ring that was there. It was tempting to give it to her here, but the atmosphere of the restaurant was what he wanted her to remember when he proposed. Not the dirty street with cars driving by and a gangster discussion.
Just a few more blocks. A few more blocks and then he could do it. Then again he really wasn't sure he'd last that long. He already felt like he might explode from wanting to ask her so badly. She giggled at something and he turned his attention back to her as she looped an arm through his. The brown mink made her dark hair almost black, which in turn made her eyes even bluer. Red lips stretched into a wide smile as he whispered into her ear.
They reached the door of the place just as the screeching tires came around the corner. Neither one saw the three men leaving the building, they had turned to look for the source of the noise. The large black car was speeding towards them. She started to question the scene, but paused as a man stuck his head out the window. He shoved her, forcing her down to the ground.
Gunfire rained on the street. The three men scattered, but not before he heard the name Dillinger. He turned his head to say something to her, to see if she was all right, only to realize he was on the ground. The memory of getting to the ground before or after he shoved her down was nonexistent.
Blood pooled around him and he was suddenly aware of the hot pain shooting through so many parts of his body. With great effort he rolled himself over and reached for where she was lying. Barely able to grasp her shoulder, he somehow managed to roll her from her side to her back.
A vacant stare met the sky and he knew she was dead. The ring that had been in his pocket was lying next to her, having fallen from his pocket at some point.
Black began to infringe on his vision and he called her name. Expending the last of his energy, he grabbed her cooling hand.
His last thought was of the look she would have had if he'd gotten the chance to give her the ring. A look of utter joy and happiness.
It's all been done
It's all been done
It's all been done before
Isabel watched as Maria fell into the arms of her best friend. Her heart ached for the girl, for the pain she must be feeling, but Isabel knew it was something that had to be done. Slowly she turned to look at Alex, unsure of what she wanted to say to him, just knowing she had to say something.
"I'm going to stay here with Maria," he told her, not putting her in a position to choose or to make him choose. "She needs someone. And I know what you need to do. And that you need to do it alone." The words left him feeling hollow and empty, left his heart broken, but he knew they were truth. The only thing he could do was hope she would come back to him.
They hugged and Isabel knew she loved him. That no matter what happened while they were gone, she would always love him. Nothing would ever be the same again, she knew that, but it didn't change how she felt. Not now, not ever. And maybe this wasn't their time. Maybe she was meant to be with Michael this time around, or even someone else, but it still didn't change her feelings.
His lips touched hers and she felt the tears deep within him. The pain of loss was already so keen he thought he might die of it. But he had to think of Maria. Of Liz. Both of them would have problems dealing with everything once it was said and done. Even if Liz went with them now, he had no doubt she wouldn't be with them for long. Not yet. Not like this.
They parted and then she was gone. Alex turned to Maria, shoving his own pain aside and hugged her close.
And if I put my fingers here, and if I say
"I love you dear"
And if I play the same three chords,
Will you just yawn and say
It's all been done before?
"Are you ready?" Max asked with a grin.
Alex adjusted the bow tie one more time and turned towards his best man. With a nod, he took a shaky breath.
"Yeah, I'm ready."
Max laughed and clasped Alex's shoulder. "Just a word of advice. Standing up there looking like you might puke at any moment is not a good way to impress your bride."
Alex smiled wanly and shrugged. "Move me too fast and I might. Or do that whole spinning around thing and I will." The smile left his face and he took another deep breath. "Ok, I'm ready."
"Let's go then."
Max turned towards the door and held it open for the groom. Grinning slightly, he took one last look at the room. Patting his pocket, he felt the rings and breathed a faint sigh of relief. Letting the door close behind him, he followed Alex to the stairs.
Michael fell in behind the two quietly just before they entered the stairway. "He looks like he might puke," he muttered.
"That's what I told him," Max replied. "How are the girls?"
"Well, Isabel is wearing the exact same shade of green he's got on. So that's a plus. Everyone else is just fine."
Max didn't have the chance to respond as they entered the church.
Maria moved slowly up the aisle, the bouquet of flowers clutched in a death grip in her fist. The small train of the red dress trailed slightly behind her and she prayed she wouldn't trip on it somehow. Smiling as best she could, she moved towards the altar. Michael flashed her a smile and Max nodded his encouragement. Her eyes fell on Alex and she felt the anxiety leave her. He had never been so happy as he had the past few months. The groom smiled at her and she returned the smile with one of her own. Reaching the Sanctuary, she turned and waited for the next person.
Liz stepped forward carefully. Trying very hard not to let her flowers shake, she gripped them even harder. She hated weddings. They always made her cry. Spotting Maria at the front, she locked her eyes onto her friend and took a slow breath. Maria nodded slightly and she smiled. Her eyes roamed, seeing first the priest, then Alex. He looked wonderful in his tux and she relaxed slightly. Max stood next to him, looking wonderful as well. As much as she wanted to see Michael in his tux, her eyes couldn't leave Max. Stepping up onto a stair, she waited turned to the guests and waited for the bride.
The first notes of the familiar song filled the room and everyone began to rise. The tall figure in white stepped forward, Phillip Evans next to her. They started forward and he offered her an encouraging smile. It seemed like an eternity before they reached the Sanctuary and climbed the few steps to the altar.
Carefully, Phillip pulled her veil back and kissed her cheek. Taking his daughter's hand, he turned to Alex. Grasping the young man's hand, the placed both of them together and joined his wife in the front pew.
Alex stared. It was as simple as that. She was simply stunning in the white silk gown. The train was covered in flowers and the scent went to his head. From now on he'd never be able to smell a gardenia without thinking of this day. He watched as Isabel and her father climbed the steps. Swallowing hard, he thought he might lose it there. Everything was spinning. Then he felt his hand touch hers and the world was right again.
Isabel watched through a fog of white as Alex watched her. He looked so handsome in his tux and she felt her heart swell with joy. His skin turned an odd shade of green as she stepped up to the altar and she feared for the lunch he had eaten earlier. That was, if he had managed to even eat lunch. Her father pulled her veil back and she finally saw him without the fog. He was incredible. Tears formed in her eyes and she blinked them back as he took her hand in his.
The priest began to speak, but the words all ran together in his mind. He couldn't focus on anything but her. The light played against the stones in her headpiece making her look like an angel. And then the priest asked for the rings. Not wanting to turn away from her, Alex looked over his shoulder and held out his free hand. Max dropped the ring into his hand and smiled. Apparently he wasn't green anymore. There might be a chance of impressing his bride yet. A chance that didn't involved puking anyway.
Sliding the ring against her finger, he repeated the words, "With this ring"
Isabel watched in awe as the ring came to rest firmly on her finger. Diamond fire lit the stones and she felt her hand begin to shake. This was really happening. Turning to Liz, she smiled and held her hand out for the ring. Taking it gently as it was offered, she could feel the symbols carved into the inside of the band as she handed it to the priest. Just as Alex had only a moment before, Isabel began to repeat the words, "With this ring"
Even though it seemed like a million years, it also seemed like only seconds had passed since they entered the church separately. And now they would leave as one.
"You may kiss the bride," the priest smiled at them.
Alex smiled at his new wife. "I love you Isabel Whitman."
"I love you more Alex Whitman," she replied.
Pulling her close, Alex kissed her deeply, ignoring the yells, catcalls and applause coming from the guests. Breaking apart, he smiled down at her.
"You ready?" he asked.
"Ready," she grinned.
Fingers intertwined and the raced back down the aisle.
She eyed the crowd warily and looked up at him. "Are you sure they have to throw the birdseed?"
He laughed and hugged her close. "Maria would have it no other way. No exploding birds after this wedding! But if it makes you feel better, it probably hurts less than the rice that's now banned."
Isabel grinned at him. "You have a point." She looked back out at the restless crowd and sighed contentedly. "This feels like it took a million lifetimes to get this right."
Alex stroked her cheek lightly. "It was almost another lifetime," he reminded her softly. "If you hadn't come back"
She reached for his hand and held it tightly in her own. "I did. And I love you. And you love me. And that's all that matters." Kissing the back of his hand, she smiled. "Take me to bed or lose me forever."
He laughed and pulled on her hand. "Let's go then!"
They raced down the steps towards the waiting limo.
Birdseed rained down and the glint of diamonds flashed in the light catching Isabel's eye. As they reached the door, she paused long enough to kiss him again before sliding inside.
This time they got it right. This time it was being done they way it was supposed to be done.
Alone and bored on a thirtieth century night
Will I see you on The Price is Right?
Will I cry? Will I smile
As you run down the aisle?
It's all been done
It's all been done
It's all been done before